Steven Gerrard has branded critics of England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney as “wrong”.
Rooney has been used in central midfield for England thus far at Euro 2016, having transitioned from his role as striker ahead of this summer’s tournament.
The 30-year-old impressed against both Slovakia and Wales to varying degrees, but was one of six rested by manager Roy Hodgson for the 0-0 draw against Slovakia in the final group game.
Many remain underwhelmed by Rooney’s apparent improvement in his new position, although it is one he is expected to reprise in the last-16 tie against Iceland.
Gerrard, who retired from international football in summer 2014, has backed his former teammate to defy his critics.
“The people who doubt Wayne are wrong,” Gerrard told German newspaper Bild. “He is still a world-class player and can decide a game alone. Such players are very important at the European Championships in France.
“He has entertained the fans in England for years. He is our [all-time] top scorer. We need him.”